It's not often that I let semantics get the better of me, but today I wanted to take a look at the titles “gamer” and “nerd.” One seems a bit antiquated. In the era of our parents, nerd was a dirty word. It was something you said as a put-down to people you didn't like. It called up images of dark basements at 3 a.m. with the sound of dice in the air as a gaggle of pre-teens attempted to talk their way through a dungeon. Nowadays, even that image doesn't have a negative connotation. There's nothing wrong with table-top gaming, just like there's nothing wrong with console or PC video games. Even popular culture has legitimized the nerd. Stranger Things made a group of Dungeons and Dragons-playing children into heroes.
As I've already said, in today's language a nerd is seen as a good thing. It can be someone that enjoys various levels of popular culture, a person who enjoys video games, or someone who knows a lot about a particular subject. I see the American English word "nerd" functioning very similarly to that of the Japanese word “otaku.” It generally represents someone who loves Japanese animation and comics. However, it can also be used to represent literally anyone who knows a lot about a particular subject. Do you know a lot about fixing cars? Well then you'd be a mechanic otaku. Know everything there is to know about growing your own food? Then you're a farming otaku. The same could genuinely be said of the word nerd. So you're an engine nerd, or a farming nerd.
This is the foundation of my reasoning that not all gamers are nerds. Yes, it's an argument of semantics, and I admitted that's usually silly. But I feel this one is worth talking about. A gamer can be a nerd, and a nerd can be a gamer. Nerdy gamers are the ones that can recite release dates for their favorite games. They know the names of top developers and most/all of the titles they have under their belts. Nerdy gamers know how to build their PCs according to which games they want to play. They know the hardware specs for their consoles and actively utilize those facts in their gaming careers.
Gamers who are not nerds are those that play and enjoy video games just like their nerd gamer counterparts, but without all the knowledge. Nerdy gamers are nerdy gamers because they are knowledgeable in their choice of hobby. It's like a taxidermist who not only stuffs animals, but also knows a lot about the animals themselves. You can play video games and enjoy them without knowing all the trivia that surrounds it. But that makes you a regular gamer, rather than a nerdy gamer.
In my opinion, the nerdy gamers are a much smaller group than the regular kind. You're probably wondering, "Why does that matter?" In truth, it really doesn't! There's nothing wrong with being the kind of gamer that just enjoys them. So you don't know when the original Game Boy released. Or you don't have a clue how many platforms hosted Red Dead Redemption. That's okay! Definitely don't let anyone shame you for lack of knowledge. In the same vein, we don't shame gamer nerds for knowing the things that they do. “The original Game Boy was released by Nintendo in April of 1989 in Japan. It made its way to the U.S. on July 31 of the same year.” That's not a statement you should make fun of, it's just a cool fact!
What I'm getting at here, in the conclusion of my silly semantic argument about gamers and nerds, is this. If you're a nerd, that's great. If you're a gamer, that's awesome. If you're a nerdy gamer, you're one of the few, but epic. Share your knowledge widely and proudly. By telling your friends the things that you know about video games and their history, you educate them too. And in the end we all win, right?